It’s increasingly difficult to make travel plans. Booking, Airbnb and other sleeping arrangements have changed their cancellation flexibility.
In the last year I had three trips canceled last minute. First of them, we were already passed through security. The flight got all together cancelled. Due to understaffing. Due to strike. Due to technical issues.
That first trip cancelled was heartbreaking. We only lost the car rental cost. But my friend who was going to host us, had taken a week off from work to be with us. We were traveling with my in laws from the States. And it was the last leg of their trip in Europe. We were able to reschedule their flight to a neighboring country than the one we were planning to explore together, before they took a train to their departure city, so they can catch their return flight home.
During Covid we stayed put. Some people missed their flights due to Covid testing. Many probably got used to the disappointment of plans changing against their will.
But here we are in march of 2023. And things are not any better. Actually flying has gotten wild, unreliable.
Traveling with a group of women, things can happen. We forfeited one flight all together. I Lost only $60 then. The price of the flight. Leading up to this cancellation:
one of the ladies realized how costly everything will be by the end of the trip. And she announced she won’t join us after all.
I thought about the cost too, a lot. I was to travel with my daughters. Train tickets, 4 hours away from the airport. Hotel room in Florence. Three meals a day for my daughters who don’t understand budget limits, with friends and restaurant cravings.
But I braced myself and decided to go, having set some boundaries and communicated with the girls that if the most expensive thing on the menu is out of the question, i don’t want to hear any complaining from them.
But. As luck would have it, a friend didn’t get an important paper to be able to travel with her daughter. Another was called into work. Another had a sick child. Another was undecided because of a Baptism, and the day before the flight one broke her toe. Broke it.
The trip was cancelled. My girls recovered fast. The anticipation was grand. But they accepted the change of plans. I sighed a sigh of relief though. My heart was only aching for the friend who took time off from work, spend a lot of money on tickets and was going to meet us in Florence. We never went. And I was sad for her, for how we test and stretch our friendship these days. Showing up is important. It’s key. We make promises easily. We depend on extenuating circumstances. We break promises. Even though not on a whim, it still hurts.
Today I was supposed to fly to Athens. For a conference. MomCon. There were no direct flights so even planning it was a hassle. I had given up twice on going, because it was too expensive to fly there and though it’s a short enough distance, with layovers it gets complicated and long.
Initially I was mentally exhausted. Tired through and through. But I got better. Made some choices. Cleared my mind. Set some boundaries. I was actually excited to go by the time I bought the flight ticket. (Word of advice: always buy directly from the airline, it possible. Refunds are a bear and there are can elation fees even if the flight is fully refundable)
Leading up to my trip my daughters were preparing mentally and I felt seen and appreciated even before going. I was looking forward to being missed from home. And I was excited for the women I was going to travel with. I was going for them too.
I had been tempted to compare my old group of girlfriends to this diverse new one. But as it happens, both trips suffered the same fate. So I am left on equal footing to meditate on my situation.
We lost money on both trips. Just because last minute cancellations have become too common and people in the travel industry went nearly bankrupt during Covid. So the hotels don’t charge only the first night if you cancel too late. Most charge the full price, unless you pay extra for cancellation insurance. Flights as well. Even though the flight was cancelled due to a country wide strike, there are non-refundable fees.
It is midMarch and we woke up to snow. The houses and cars and roads are all white. It’s cold beyond normal. And even though I was supposed to be in Greece, at a conference enjoying good company, I’m drinking my coffee getting ready to drive kids to school.
And yet. I feel grateful. A few days ago, before all this happened, I was so stirred in my spirit, like a heavy darkness was about to engulf us all. To give up control and trust God, to accept the peace that surpasses all understanding, in the midst of chaos… that is miraculous in itself. There is also this timeless truth: for we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God. Everything is redeemed. Even when we can’t quite see it yet.